8.02.2010

'Jesus wept.' John 11:35

I have read the following CNN article a number of times – with great sadness of heart because I have experienced the same feelings, with one distinction.

Writer Anne Rice has “quit” Christianity.

I would assert that Ms. Rice, in her condemnation, is confusing Christianity with its various denominations.

When I was a child of 10 I was baptized and joined a church of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I was a little older, I read Herschel H. Hobbs’ “Fundamentals of our Faith” – the four cornerstones of the Southern Baptists’ credo – and fully agreed with them.

In the mid-1980s I sat at an editorial desk and read documentation of a fundamentalist takeover of the boards of trustees of the SBC’s colleges and seminaries – and eventually the SBC itself. At that point, as I have said, I didn’t leave my church; my church left me.

The SBC also left its former president Herschel Hobbs – a man of wisdom and insight - expelling all his writings and his struggles, which had left such a powerful mark on our faith.

Dr. Hobbs held a Ph.D. in New Testament interpretation. He knew His stuff. At the hands of fundamentalists, enlightenment was systematically snuffed.

I hope you will read Ms. Rice’s words through to the end. I believe they will give DemWit’s readers, regardless of their system of belief, an idea of the toll fundamentalism and the Religious Right are taking on the religion claiming to be based on Jesus Christ’s ministry.

The article:

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession" in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian ... It's simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

Read on …

Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," Rice wrote. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

***

Much to ponder.

13 comments:

tnlib said...

Good post. I think your point that she may be "confusing Christianity with its various denominations" is absolutely true. I particularly like the quote at the very end. Sums it up pretty well for me.

Good Southern Man said...

It seems that Ms. Rice is quitting religion and not Christianity. Her Thursday post speaks of Christ being central to her life. I think she may have used the wrong words.

Religion affects people in different ways. She speaks of changing from a pessimistic atheist to an optimistic believer. I experienced a different change. I went from a believer full of shame to a non-believer full of tolerance and hope for mankind and myself. This was an arduous journey but one that makes me feel right with myself and the world. I do think that change could have happened without the religious change but it didn't.

Labels are important to some people so the actual label for my way of believing is agnostic-atheism. I do not believe there is a supreme being. I do not believe that anything will happen when I die and I am quite comfortable with that. But there is always a chance, no matter how slight, that you may be right. This also means that a person who believes their god is a purple lizard could be right. I do not believe that to be true but I will give you the benefit of the doubt. However, I know statistics and many people who were brought up religious, return to religion at the end of their life. If this happens, so be it. Please don't get caught in semantics. Religion/God/Supreme Being/Purple Lizards can all mean the same thing and be separate from each other at the same time.

I probably should be writing this after coffee and I hope I am making sense. lol.

Now that I am a non-believer I see what religion has to offer: Rituals from birth to death and everything in between, community, ethics in the form of morals, comfort for sick hearts and bodies and so many more things. I think we can still do this without the idea of a supreme being. Having a perfect ideal is much different from having a perfect being. I simply do not think that perfection in any form can ever be attained even by way of God.

I do not hate God. I never have. I simply do not believe that there is one. It was so similar to finding out that Santa didn't exist. Our parents wanted us to believe so that we can have a beautiful Christmas full of hope and wonder. This is the same wish our forefathers of religion wanted for our lives.

I am not trying to convert anyone so I will stop here. I do know the importance of community and since society is an illusion as I see it, for the community to have an illusory leader seems inevitable.

I think we can change this and still have a society that really yearns for the truth and a comfort in the unknown.

Good Southern Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Good Southern Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.J. said...

GSM emailed: “My computer didn't recognize that it was sent so you have multiple entries. Sorry about that.”

I prefer not to delete comments, giving the impression that I am censoring someone in expressing himself or herself. Unless a comment personally attacks another, this is an open forum. I also allow anonymous comments as I believe someone might have something worthy to add, yet not wish to be identified.

BJ

Debra said...

I am Baptist. I believe in GOD-THE FATHER,JESUS-THE SON and the HOLY SPIRIT. I believe you can go (in pray) to GOD and ask for anything that is on your heart. He may not give you what you want at that moment but he will give you what is best for you at that moment.
I believe he forgives and forgets when you are truly sorry for some ill will you have caused. I believe your relationship should be one on one with God and you don't have to go through anyone else to get to GOD. You talk directly to God. If you put your faith in man-you will be disappointed every time, but if you trust in GOD, he will bring your through good times and bad.
Have a blessed day! Love, Debra

Papamoka said...

Awesome post my friend and I need to put my two cents in if you don't mind.

From my perspective as a Catholic, my church has abandoned the core reason for being from the top down with the child abuse issue and lack of prosecution, damnation, and admission of it's own sins for the evils its members committed on children. Having five children I can never look at any priest without doubt in my own mind if he might harm one of my babies.

Taking from that point, my faith has no honor or right to speak when it comes to a woman and her right to choice. If she chooses abortion, is it not the same choice the leaders of the faithful made by just moving the priests around? How many lives were destroyed before they moved them around?

I'll follow the words of Jesus Christ as I understand them. I don't think that I will ever have a problem when I finally meet my maker. I do believe that every individual has their own right to express their faith and it doesn't always have to have a label or "Pay Us Here Every Sunday" physical building to pray in.

Thanks for posting this article BJ and hugs at ya.

Tiny said...

Great post, BJ. Interesting, informative and timely.

Much to the chagrin of her siblings, Tiny does not profess to be a Christian either. Although, she will hasten to say she aspires to daily live the teachings of Jesus, who was not a Christian, nor did he teach Christian doctrines. He taught Truth and Universal Laws, which can be found in all of the world's major religions. So, too, is the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' Another way of stating it is" 'If you do not want it done unto you, then do not do it unto anyone else. For the Universal Law is: 'You reap what you sow.' As the kids today state it, 'What goes around, comes around.'

In Genesis, chapter 1, it is repeated 7 times: 'Every seed produces after its own kind.' Want to know what our words, thoughts and actions produce? Pay attention to what is going on in the world today. Preachers are preaching from their pulpits hate, racism, killing of others, slander and propaganda against other races, genders, religions, sexual orientations, immorality and many other uncouth subjects.
What happened to The Ten Commandments. Better yet, What happened to the Great Commandment Jesus gave to love one another?
Preacher Terry Jones in Gainesville, FL is sponsoring a 'Burn a Koran' (a sacred Moslem book) on 9-11 'in honor of the people killed when the Twin Towers were struck by radical religious fanatics. Plus, many Moslems were killed in the towers that day also, the same as they have in our military wars.
(Continued on next comment.)

Tiny said...

But according to Terry Jones, the Koran teaches them to kill other people, subjugate women, rape then, stone them to death etc...etc...etc..., the very same teachings you will find in the Bible. And where did the Bible originate? In the same Mideast as the Koran! Have you ever noticed those same cultural teachings in the same Bible? Do you view them as literal or symbolic? Did you ever really see a talking snake!?
Why stone to death the woman caught in adultery? She wasn't committing adultery by her self if she was caught in the act! So what were they doing with the man/men with whom she was caught? Didn't hear of him/them being stoned to death, castrated or any other kind of punishment! (Like the Catholic priests and protestant preachers.)Did you ever wonder why? Tiny sure did. Could it be that the men thought they were superior to women?

Boys and girls, back to Genesis where it is stated that all of us were created equal. So where did men get the idea they were superior to women? Where does one race get the idea they are superior to other races of people? Where does particular religions get the idea their choice of religion is superior to another culture's religion? Doesn't make any sense does it?

Tiny doesn't care what anyone chooses to believe. If you want to believe a rock in the road is God, that's fine. If you want to believe a stump in the forest is God, that's fine too. Just don't try to convince Tiny she has to believe it too.
Does she believe there's a Supreme Being sitting on a throne above the clouds striking some people down with lightening bolts as punishment and showering others, the self proclaimed so-called righteous with all the good things? Not hardly! Science refutes that too.
Tiny's has been taught that we live in a universe governed by Universal Laws. None of us can see the Law of Gravity. However, if a brick lands on our head, we feel the effects of gravity.

The Laws of Nature teach us that inside an acorn is the pattern of an oak tree. Not a maple tree. Not a walnut tree. Not a palm tree, but an oak tree. In a kernel of corn is the pattern of a corn stalk and ears of corn; Jesus taught that one too. If you want to harvest tomatoes, you aren't going to plant bean, squash or black eyed pea seeds. You're going to plant tomato seeds.

By the same token, if we want to reap kindness, mercy, patience, tolerance, brotherly/sisterly love, peace, forgiveness etc, then that is the kind of thoughts, actions and deeds that have to be sown. The choice is up to each individual. What do you want to reap? AS Tiny taught her children, 'Sow any kind of seeds you are willing to harvest, for you are the only one who will reap the seeds you sow.'
Write what you consider injustices against you in the sand so the wind of forgiveness will blow them away. Write all the good deeds you have received in stone so they will be engraved forever in your heart and mind.

Tiny will end this with a bit of humor. It is not meant to offend anyone or their beliefs. It's just a bit of religious humor. Tiny finds a lot of humor in the Bible.

When a woman caught in adultery was taken to Jesus to be stoned, he stooped down, wrote in the sand and said, 'Let he/she that is without sin cast the first stone.'

A big stone comes hurling through the crowd. Thankfully it grazed past the alleged adulterer without touching her. Jesus sprung up and spun around to see who threw it, then yelled:

'Mother! Sometimes you really piss me off!'

Good post, BJ. Tiny always look forward to reading your blog. Keep up your good work. We love you.

Tiny said...

But according to Terry Jones, the Koran teaches them to kill other people, subjugate women, rape then, stone them to death etc...etc...etc..., the very same teachings you will find in the Bible. And where did the Bible originate? In the same Mideast as the Koran! Have you ever noticed those same cultural teachings in the same Bible? Do you view them as literal or symbolic? Did you ever really see a talking snake!?
Why stone to death the woman caught in adultery? She wasn't committing adultery by her self if she was caught in the act! So what were they doing with the man/men with whom she was caught? Didn't hear of him/them being stoned to death, castrated or any other kind of punishment! (Like the Catholic priests and protestant preachers.)Did you ever wonder why? Tiny sure did. Could it be that the men thought they were superior to women?

Boys and girls, back to Genesis where it is stated that all of us were created equal. So where did men get the idea they were superior to women? Where does one race get the idea they are superior to other races of people? Where does particular religions get the idea their choice of religion is superior to another culture's religion? Doesn't make any sense does it?

Tiny doesn't care what anyone chooses to believe. If you want to believe a rock in the road is God, that's fine. If you want to believe a stump in the forest is God, that's fine too. Just don't try to convince Tiny she has to believe it too.
Does she believe there's a Supreme Being sitting on a throne above the clouds striking some people down with lightening bolts as punishment and showering others, the self proclaimed so-called righteous with all the good things? Not hardly! Science refutes that too.
Tiny's has been taught that we live in a universe governed by Universal Laws. None of us can see the Law of Gravity. However, if a brick lands on our head, we feel the effects of gravity.

The Laws of Nature teach us that inside an acorn is the pattern of an oak tree. Not a maple tree. Not a walnut tree. Not a palm tree, but an oak tree. In a kernel of corn is the pattern of a corn stalk and ears of corn; Jesus taught that one too. If you want to harvest tomatoes, you aren't going to plant bean, squash or black eyed pea seeds. You're going to plant tomato seeds.

By the same token, if we want to reap kindness, mercy, patience, tolerance, brotherly/sisterly love, peace, forgiveness etc, then that is the kind of thoughts, actions and deeds that have to be sown. The choice is up to each individual. What do you want to reap? AS Tiny taught her children, 'Sow any kind of seeds you are willing to harvest, for you are the only one who will reap the seeds you sow.'
Write what you consider injustices against you in the sand so the wind of forgiveness will blow them away. Write all the good deeds you have received in stone so they will be engraved forever in your heart and mind.

Tiny will end this with a bit of humor. It is not meant to offend anyone or their beliefs. It's just a bit of religious humor. Tiny finds a lot of humor in the Bible.

When a woman caught in adultery was taken to Jesus to be stoned, he stooped down, wrote in the sand and said, 'Let he/she that is without sin cast the first stone.'

A big stone comes hurling through the crowd. Thankfully it grazed past the alleged adulterer without touching her. Jesus sprung up and spun around to see who threw it, then yelled:

'Mother! Sometimes you really piss me off!'

Good post, BJ. Tiny always look forward to reading your blog. Keep up your good work. We love you.

B.J. said...

Sorry some posts are being duplicated.

The comments are turning into a real Tower of Babel - seems everyone has a different view of the post subject. And, apparently, there is a real need to express feelings about religion.

It was my intention in the post to lay out what is a real problem for me: persons who not only claim to be Christian, but claim to be "the one true way" preaching fear, hatred, intolerance instead. That is a true moral dilemma for me: what they are doing to turn people away from Christianity. And, yes, I can picture Jesus weeping.

BJ

Tiny said...

Tiny has a Post Script to her comment. She just listened to Pete Seeger's new song and can say: Welcome back, Pete, and God bless you.

For those who can get to this video, Pete's new song has a very prophetic and profound message for all who will heed the lyrics of this song.

Doesn't matter anyone's belief system or religious label is, it is a reality that is upon us and a great lesson for us and to teach our younger generations. It is also a call to be of service in any way we can. That's Tiny's opinion, of course.

http://readersupportednews.org/video/4-video/2562-pete-seeger-live-for-the-gulf

BJ, Tiny is going to try to find the lyrics to this to send to you.

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